TomTom Announces Clarification, States Car Kit, Application to be Sold Separately

Posted by:
Date: Friday, September 25th, 2009, 05:47
Category: Accessory, iPhone, iPod, News

tomtomlogo

Following up on an incident where its product was briefly displayed at the European Apple Store web site yesterday, TomTom U.K. announced that its upcoming iPhone Car Kit accessory will have a retail price of £99.99 but will not include the TomTom application.

“TomTom announces today that the TomTom car kit for the iPhone will have a recommended retail price of £99.99,” the company said in a press release. “The TomTom car kit will be available this October and will be sold separately from the TomTom app. It will be compatible with the iPhone 2G, 3G and 3GS. All further details on the car kit will be made available soon.”

The announcement conflicts with earlier reports that the kit would include the software as a bundle.

The press release didn’t clarify whether the iPod touch will be compatible with the hardware kit, though the product’s windshield mount includes an external GPS receiver that is said to improve the reception of the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS.

Unlike those models, first-generation iPhone does not include an internal GPS receiver, but the press release states that the device will work with the hardware. That corrects an apparent error in the previous Apple Store listing, which said that the TomTom software would not work on the first-generation iPhone.

Originally due for release over the summer, the kit was delayed until October. The TomTom application was released in the App Store in August at a price of US$99 U.S.

A final price for the U.S. edition has yet to be officially accounced.

Rumor: AT&T MicroCell Device En Route, Will Offer Unlimited Coverage for Extra $20/Month

Posted by:
Date: Monday, September 21st, 2009, 04:39
Category: iPhone, iPhone 3GS, Rumor

3gs.jpg

AT&T customers based in one of the company’s weaker pockets of coverage will be able to pay US$20 to pay $20 extra to obtain unlimited calling over 3G using their own Internet access. Per Engadget Mobile, an anonymous tip has stated that the company plans to offer an unlimited calling plan for users for US$20 per month.

The service would be bundled with AT&T-supplied Internet (if available in your area), the monthly fee would drop to US$10, and with AT&T Internet and landline service, the monthly fee goes away entirely.

It’s not clear if the monthly fee for unlimited wireless calling through the device will be mandatory in order to obtain the 3G MicroCell device. According to the photo of official looking marketing collateral included in the report, “3G phones connected to the MicroCell without AT&T Unlimited MicroCell Calling continue to use existing plan minutes.”

If unlimited calling is entirely optional, iPhone 3G and 3GS users may be able to purchase and install the 3G MicroCell and simply use it to burn their existing plan minutes without paying any additional monthly fees, solving dropped call or delayed SMS issues for users within poor coverage areas.

Even if obtaining the device requires the additional unlimited calling plan, users may end up saving money by cutting their existing plan minutes and placing most of their calls from their home or work location. Current iPhone service plans with AT&T cost US$60 for 450 daytime rollover minutes, US$80 for 900 minutes, US$100 for 1,350 minutes, or US$120 for unlimited time.

In either case, other AT&T users who access the MicroCell to place 3G calls, texts or access mobile data will not be charged any differently than if they were to use a regular 3G tower; they will simply eat up their existing plan minutes.

The 3G MicroCell does not create a VoIP alternative to AT&T’s network. In fact, the unit simply tunnels 3G voice and data over the user’s existing broadband Internet service to AT&T’s servers, which process it like any other call handled by its existing 3G cell towers.

AT&T’s 3G appliance isn’t usable by 3G mobile users on other carriers, nor does it provide GSM/EDGE service usable by the original iPhone model. It will work with any 3G-capable sold by AT&T, however. It’s not yet known if the MicroCell supplies the standard 3.6Mbit/sec HDPA service typical of AT&T’s current towers, or if it supplies the faster 7.2 service supported by the iPhone 3GS.

Due to broadcasting regulations, users will also be prevented from using the 3G MicroCell in areas where AT&T doesn’t officially do business. For example, it can’t be installed by users in Vermont or North Dakota or in other countries outside the US; this is enforced by GPS tracking in the device.

Other mobile providers already sell similar “mini cell tower” devices, commonly referred to in the industry as a “femtocell”. These units are used both to provide service where coverage is missing or to allow customers to provide their own pipe for unlimited mobile calling. For example, Sprint sells its Airave for US$5 per month, or with an unlimited calling plan that costs US$10. Verizon sells a femtocell for its 3G users with no monthly fees, but does not provide any unlimited calling option.

T-Mobile, for their part provides unlimited calling through its HotSpot@Home service, which costs US$10 per month.

AT&T is expected to begin rolling out 3G MicroCell devices to users in a limited number of markets over the next couple of weeks, following an extensive beta testing period. Hammered by the iPhone’s voracious data demands, AT&T’s 3G mobile network has been criticized as severely inadequate by many high profile critics and plenty of frustrated users.

iFixIt Teardown Finds 802.11n Chip, Space for Video Camera on New iPod Touch

Posted by:
Date: Monday, September 14th, 2009, 06:32
Category: iPod, iPod Touch

ipodtouchshot

You’ve gotta love iFixIt and their recent teardown of the new third generation iPod touch has revealed some interesting details pertaining to Apple’s newly-released third generation media player.

Per the report, the new iPod touch features an 802.11n chip as well as enough space to fit a video camera such as the one found in the new iPod nano. In addition, the space is in the center on the back of the device, where the camera was rumored to be located. However, there are no headers on the iPod’s board for a camera cable.

“It appears that Apple left in room for a camera in the top of the device,” the solutions provider said. “There is a 6mm x 6mm x 3mm space between the Broadcom chip and the wireless antenna. There isn’t enough depth for an iPhone-style autofocus still camera, but just enough room for the camera that Apple used in the 5th generation iPod nano.”

The new iPod nano features a video-only camera and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs said in an interview with The New York Times this week that the iPod touch was not given a camera because the company wanted to focus on promoting the hardware as a gaming machine, and keeping the low-end model’s price under US$200.

The teardown located a Broadcom BCM4329 chip inside the new third-generation device, the chip supporting the 802.11n protocol. The iPhone 3GS features a BCM4325 chip, which only supports 802.11 a/b/g. The new iPod touch does not support 802.11n Wi-Fi out of the box.

“This reminds us of last year when we broke the news that the 2nd generation touch had Bluetooth support in hardware,” they said. “Apple didn’t enable software support until 9 months later with iPhone OS 3.0.”

The new device also features a Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR and and a FM receiver and transmitter. However, that does not necessarily mean that the iPod touch will be able to receive and send FM signals. The latest iPod nano, however, does have a built-in FM receiver.

“If they built in the antennas, and if Apple adds software support,” iFixit said, “you could theoretically stream music to your car stereo without any external hardware. But that’s a lot of ifs.”

“While we were all disappointed by Apple’s underwhelming iPod touch announcement, it is clear that there is more engineering effort under the surface of this device than meets the eye.”

AT&T Staggering iPhone MMS Feature Release, Some Users Report Early Activation

Posted by:
Date: Monday, September 14th, 2009, 04:20
Category: iPhone, News

3gs.jpg

A number of iPhone users have reported that the long awaited MMS feature seems to have been enabled on their devices well in advance of AT&T’s declared September 25th start date according to howardforums.com.

The MMS support feature will allow iPhone OS 3.0 users to send pictures, video and audio recordings, contacts, or locations from Maps via 3G-capable iPhones.

In announcing its plans to enable the feature for iPhone users, AT&T explained, “It was important to give our customers a positive experience from day one. We support more iPhone customers than any other carrier in the world so we took the time necessary to make sure our network is ready to handle what we expect will be a record volume of MMS traffic. We truly appreciate our customers’ patience and hope they’ll understand our desire to get it right from the start.”

Rather than turning on MMS service for millions of American iPhone users all at once, AT&T has been selectively activating users across the country. Once activated, iPhone 3G and 3GS users should see a new “Cellular Data Network” menu item within the General/Network page of the Settings app and a new camera icon within the Messages app for sending photos.

It’s possible to install a modified carrier bundle for AT&T to activate MMS software features, but this does not necessarily result in functioning MMS. Without AT&T removing your opt out, MMS messages will queue up with a red exclamation icon as they fail to actually send.

Many users are reporting that there is no correlation between working MMS and either their installed software version, their carrier bundle version, their service or texting plan, or their geographic location. AT&T appears to turning on MMS for users at random to achieve a staggered release up to the September 25th deadline.

TomTom iPhone Kit Delayed Until October

Posted by:
Date: Friday, September 4th, 2009, 04:45
Category: iPhone, News, Software

tomtomlogo

Right, you won’t like this, but you should know about it.

According to AppleInsider, TomTom spokesman Kevin Carter confirmed that the company’s iPhone hardware kit will not be available for its previously announced summer release deadline, though no specific reason was given. The accessory is a cradle that will interface with the iPhone and provide enhanced GPS capabilities.

“I can confirm that we have decided to take some extra weeks in order to deliver the highest quality on this innovative product,” Carter said. “So, the car kit will become available for purchase this October on www.tomtom.com.”

While the hardware is not necessary to use the software that is currently available in the iPhone App Store, it will amplify the GPS signal for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS. In addition, the original iPhone and the iPod touch, both of which do not have a GPS receiver, will be able to use the hardware kit, as mentioned on the product’s FAQ page.

The TomTom kit will act as a basic suction cup mount for the dashboard or windshield, and will also support hands-free calling and music through the stereo system, as well as charge capabilities through the vehicle’s 12-volt port.

The kit’s price will vary depending on location and final system requirements have yet to be released.

AT&T to (Finally) Bring MMS to iPhone on September 25th

Posted by:
Date: Friday, September 4th, 2009, 04:08
Category: News

3gs.jpg

On Thursday, wireless carrier AT&T finally disclosed a firm date as to when the company would add MMS support for the iPhones on its network. According to Electronista, the carrier will activate the feature on September 25th through a software upgrade for iPhone 3G and 3GS owners. Adding the feature will let those running iPhone 3.0 or later firmware send photos, videos and general data like contact cards to any MMS-aware phone. Original iPhones won’t be eligible for the upgrade, though it’s never been fully explained as to why this is the case.

The company acknowledged that the release will be just past the official “end of summer” target announced after the iPhone 3GS unveiling at WWDC and elaborated on its reasons behind the months long delay. Officials claim the company had to prepare its network to handle the likely “record” load of data traffic.

In other news, AT&T declined to commit to a specific release window for a much-anticipated data tethering feature. Represenatives said the addition could “exponentially increase” the network load and that it only plans to offer tethering sometime “in the future.” As with MMS, the company wants to make sure its upgrades are complete before it sends a carrier update that enables tethering.

AT&T normally charges extra for tethering but hasn’t said what its pricing, if any, will be.

Apple, China Mobile Still in Talks Over iPhone Distribution

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, September 1st, 2009, 04:43
Category: iPhone

3gs.jpg

Following up on the story that Apple settled on wireless carrier China Unicom to distribute the iPhone in China last week, Apple is apparently still in talks with China Mobile to sort out a distribution deal with the company.

According to Macworld UK, the talks between Apple and China Mobile, the world’s biggest carrier by subscribers, have reached no conclusion yet, a China Mobile spokeswoman said Tuesday. An Apple spokeswoman confirmed the company’s three-year distribution deal with China Unicom is not exclusive, but did not say if the company is in talks with other potential partners.

China Unicom will offer the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS, with the first handsets going on sale in the fourth quarter. The company began its talks with Apple two years ago, but China Unicom, which operates a 3G network compatible with the iPhone, became seen as the favorite for an iPhone deal in recent months.

One snag in China Mobile’s talks with Apple was the carrier’s plan for its own mobile application store, which was seen as a potential competitor with the iPhone App Store. Another was China Mobile’s use of a mobile standard for its 3G network that was domestically developed and is not compatible with current iPhone models.

The app store and 3G standard snags could remain in any talks. The China Mobile download store went online last month and supports handsets including “Ophones,” or devices that run a China Mobile operating system but have a layout very similar to an iPhone.

Some details of the iPhone launch could still pose problems for China Unicom as well, including how and whether revenue from the App Store should be shared, one analyst said.

TomTom Releases Region-Specific GPS Apps for iPhone, iPod Touch

Posted by:
Date: Monday, August 17th, 2009, 03:29
Category: iPhone, iPod, Software

tomtomlogo

While it’s not the first turn-by-turn GPS application to offer driving instructions for Apple’s iPhone 3G or iPhone 3GS handset, it’s from TomTom and there’s a brand name behind it. Per Engadget, after starting with New Zealand a few hours ago, the iTunes App Store is now populated with region specific TomTom apps for NZ (US$95), Australia (US$80), US and Canada (US$100), and Western Europe (US$140).

The TomTom application requires iPhone OS 3.0 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the application and have any feedback about it, let us know!

8GB iPhone 3GS Unit Resurfaces in Rogers Wireless Inventory

Posted by:
Date: Friday, August 14th, 2009, 05:10
Category: iPhone

3gs.jpg

In spite of official denials to the widespread rumors, Canadian carrier Rogers Wireless appears to still feature a 8GB iPhone 3GS in its databases. According to Boy Genius Report, several leaks have hinted to a cheaper iPhone 3GS model which would allegedly replace the US$99 iPhone 3G once current stocks have been depleted.

A source claims, however, that at Rogers’ SalesCentral website, a listing titled “IPHN8BLKR 3GS GSM” persists. Several Rogers dealers have meanwhile suggested that the 8GB model has been regularly appearing, and disappearing, from databases during the past week. Earlier rumors have hinted that Rogers is already taking 8GB 3GS units into inventory.

Latest iPhone OS 3.1 Beta Cites Unknown Device

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, August 5th, 2009, 04:44
Category: News

3gs.jpg

Once again, a mystery device in the latest iPhone OS 3.1 firmware beta is being referred to, the device featuring a new model number and fueling speculation that Apple has a new touchscreen device based on its mobile operating system coming soon.

According to ArsTechnica, a device called “iProd 0,1″ was first discovered in March in the iPhone 3.0 OS beta firmware. The latest beta update also includes a reference to iProd, but this time the USBConfiguration.plist file gives the product the “1,1” distinction — something Apple typically uses to refer to its first-generation products.

The information has led to speculation that a new, unannounced piece of hardware running the iPhone OS could be nearing launch.

The reference to iProd 1,1 has a product ID of 4762, while the original iProd 0,1 was model 4757. The new model also features references to Ethernet configurations, leading the report to suspect the supposed new device could have “gained high-speed networking capabilities” since the 0,1 hardware incarnation.

“What we are willing to bet on is that with a 1,1 moniker the product will see public release soon—perhaps as early as September, when Apple typically unveils new iPods,” the report concludes.

Apple always uses the first number in these device identifiers to refer to major revisions, the naming schemes allude to a second major reworking of the iPhone in testing at Apple as well as a minor revision of the current iPod touch and a third-generation overhaul. The original iPhone is seen as iPhone 1,1, while the iPhone 3G appears as iPhone 1,2 — a minor upgrade to an existing design. The first- and second-generation iPod touch show as 1,1 and 2,1 respectively.